Sunday, October 26, 2008

long swaying swirls of sound

He held radical light
as music in his skull: music
turned, as
over ridges immanences of evening light
rise, turned
back over the furrows of his brain
into the dark, shuddered,
shot out again
in long swaying swirls of sound:

reality had little weight in his transcendence
so he
had trouble keeping
his feet on the ground, was
terrified by that
and liked himself, and others, mostly
under roofs:
nevertheless, when the
light churned and changed

his head to music, nothing could keep him
off the mountains, his
head back, mouth working,
wrestling to say, to cut loose
from the high, unimaginable hook:
released, hidden from stars, he ate,
burped, said he was like any one
of us: demanded he
was like any one of us.

A.R. Ammons, "He Held Radical Light"

I wish I could see the world the way Monet did - a melange of color and motion that is at once chaotic and calm. Leaving the "Les Nymphéas" exhibition at the Musée de l'Orangerie this afternoon, I felt a little like the prodigal daughter finding herself re-embraced by and enamored once again with Impressionism.

These paintings, that were curved to cover the walls of the entire oval room, offered a refreshing, alternative vision - if the devil is in the details, why don't we just stick to Monet's big picture, the feeling we get when we look at something, or the general impression of the thing rather than its construction? It's the idea of water lilies, the suggestion of rippling water, and the echo of swaying weeping willow trees that make these paint strokes more than just oil on the canvas. Admire them from afar; up-close, they are nearly indiscernible.

I think that that is a big problem that we all have - sometimes our view is too small, too specific that we go about the world like horses wearing blinders so we don't get spooked. Take a step back and breath it in. There was something so warm and welcoming just to be sitting in the center of the oval room, surrounded on all sides by small, seemingly unimportant, indistinguishable brush strokes that eventually dissolve into a dynamic landscape of recognizable water and flowers. As Ammons said, Monet must have had some truly beautiful music in his head (and his eyes, for that matter) to create the "swirl of sounds" that are so expertly put to canvas.


Sandi Stuart said...


Loved your Blog. Your terrific Mom gave me your site. Great Sunday morning read!! You have transported me back to my favorite City!! We are all living vicarioulsy thru you!!

Mike,Popcorn and I are now calling Sarasota home!! I of course am still commutning, but wishing I were home 100% of the time!! It is exciting to be a Democrat in DC right now. Spirits are high!!

Enjoy every second in Paris. Love all the dining suggestions for our next trip to the City of Lights.

And while I know work and play occupy every waking second, please stay in touch!! We all miss you but are so thrilled by your life!! Sandi

Tiffany said...

Being in a semi-French speaking country, I often dream about being in a real one (esp. France). I remembered that you're there and wondered how life is, which led me to your facebook page, which led me to your blog, which led me to this wonderful entry! How happy was I to stumble on an Ammons poem? Very. Damn, I miss Davidson. Hope you're enjoying Paris and have a wonderful holiday season!